#DWPDX: Discover the Chic, Witty Portland Design of the 'Mad Men' Era

A retrospective reveals the roots of Portland's modern design sensibility. (Hint: it predates 'Portlandia'.)

By Zach Dundas October 7, 2014

Portland is a proud and historically conscious city. (Just try tearing anything down.) And yet, with our population heavy on migrants, Portlanders often can't quite place the details of the social and cultural crosscurrents that formed the city of today.

One of tonight's most intriguing Design Week Portland events, Portland Designers in the Mad Men Era, delves into the roots of the city's graphic arts scene and design sensibility. Spotlighting the work of pioneering '60s designers Byron Ferris, Bennet Norrbo, and Charles Politz, the evening explores the visual and cultural hallmarks of advertising's golden age as it was lived and worked here, in a city simultaneously far from the Manhattan-centric national ad scene and rich in clients and craft of its own.  

"This event will first and foremost highlight the work of three extraordinary designers, illustrators, writers, 'zinesters' and fine artists," writes organizer Melissa Delzio, who was moved to create the event after learning that much of this trio's work was languishing in closets. "They were leaders in Portland's burgeoning creative industry in the 1960s. They promoted Northwest design to the nation, and laid the groundwork for the modern design community." She also promises that, yes, one subject's particular love for martinis will be revealed.

To paraphrase Don Draper, close the door, take a seat, and check out the heritage of Portland-flavored "creative."


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